Being raised in an African household, I didn't necessarily grow up a "full Wisconsinite" because of my lifestyle as an Eritrean. I kind of stumbled upon football because it was something I wanted to do that helped me relax with my friends when I was younger. My parents followed the Packers, but they weren't die-hard fans, nor did they make sports a real priority for me. They didn't lecture me about their favorite players growing up and take me to games. It was different.
It took 22 years, but I finally attended my first NFL football game, and it was when the Green Bay Packers faced the Kansas City Chiefs inside a wet Lambeau Field this week (and of course, I didn't think to bring a jacket). It was a new and different perspective on the game of football for me, one that I never experienced before. It was louder, damper and more surreal than observing it on a television screen. For the longest time, I sat at home and flipped through TV channels and never saw anything up close and in person except practices. That has finally changed.
I had several people tweet me about how enjoyable this was going to be because this was happening at Lambeau and not anywhere else. The history inside the stadium on the field, as well as on the walls and outside the stadium entrances is exceptional to admire. There's a special vibe you get walking inside the stadium that just makes you feel so fortunate to be from Wisconsin, and to be able to look back at some of the franchises' greatest players.
I covered Packers training camp for WTMJ in 2014 and often did video reports from inside Lambeau, so this wasn't my first time actually inside. But the difference between standing inside when it's empty compared to a game is like comparing Arby's to Chick Fil-A. When I think about that atmosphere on Monday, it's easy for me to recall how complacent and at home I felt around the random strangers I high-five'd and talked about the game with. And no offense to Kansas City, but this was the Chiefs. I can't imagine what it's like during the playoffs or against the Bears.
Obviously, one of the best parts about the game was the fact that I watched the greatest quarterback I'm probably going to see in my lifetime dice the Chiefs defense for five touchdowns. We Vine, GIF and screenshot the different throws and tight windows Aaron Rodgers completes passes through, but it's something unique to watch live. The accuracy, speed, power and release he puts on the ball is almost illegal when you're not too far away from him.
I don't have a lifelong memory of my first Packers game as a kid considering I'm an adult now, but whenever (if?) I become a parent of my own, I'm going to do whatever it takes to make sure my child's first game is a Packers game at Lambeau. Lambeau Field is the best stadium in the NFL, and it's the best place to be when watching football.